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Documents prove children given jabs without consent

By Patricia McDonagh
Irish Independent, Monday December 13 2010

THE first proof that unauthorised vaccine trials were carried out on children in the care of the State has emerged in new medical documents obtained during an Irish Independent investigation.

They show one boy was given a controversial and potentially harmful 'five-in-one' jab without his mother's consent, shortly before he was adopted.

Philip Delaney's medical records provide the first evidence that additional experimental vaccines were administered -- without the knowledge of the State -- to children in their care.

The revelation has again raised serious questions about the number of vaccine trials carried out on children in the care of the State.

Mr Delaney (45) claims he has suffered a lifetime of ill health after he was treated "like an animal" while in the care of the controversial mother and baby home in Bessborough, Co Cork, in 1965.

His adoptive mother, who witnessed the vaccine being administered, claims she was told it was part of a 'secret trial' involving up to 20 children.

The Department of Health last night insisted it never approved the injection, which comprised a combined polio, measles, diphtheria (respiratory disease), whooping cough and tetanus vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline, the multinational drugs company that carried out three confirmed vaccine trials on 211 children, refused to say if the five-in-one vaccine was carried out on its behalf.


Medical records obtained by Mr Delaney through an adoption agency confirm he was administered the five-in-one vaccine in three stages between August and October 1965.

He was given the first two jabs while in the care of the State in Bessborough.

The third injection took place in the home of his new adoptive mother, Vera Delaney.

The documents state: "The first of your five-in-one vaccination for polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus was given on the 26th of August, the second on the 25th of September. You were due the third of your five-in-one injection on the 26th October and a note on file indicates that (doctor, who cannot be identified for legal reasons) was going to call to your new home to give you this injection."

Speaking from his home in Longford, Mr Delaney said he has come up against a wall of silence every time he has attempted to discover the truth behind the trials carried out on him as a baby.

He has suffered chronic asthma all of his life and got measles as a child and wonders if this was the result of the vaccine.

"I feel I was treated like an animal. They thought they might just jab some concoction into a baby without telling anyone," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Delaney's birth mother Margaret Finnegan said she never gave her consent for her child to receive the vaccine. "I was never told he would get the vaccine or asked by a doctor if I agreed with it," she said.

Senior opposition frontbenchers and campaigners last night called for an independent inquiry into vaccine trials.

"It is unconscionable that, despite being faced with undeniable evidence of trials, the Government continues its cynical indifference against vulnerable children and unmarried mothers," Susan Loan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said.

Fine Gael deputy leader and health spokesman James Reilly said an independent inquiry would be necessary if the Oireachtas Health Committee, which is currently sourcing material to see if it will launch a formal investigation, was not given all files relating to the vaccine trials.

"It is deeply disturbing that this vaccine was not part of the Department of Health-approved regime and that there is no record of a trial," he said.

The Department of Health last night insisted it was unaware of any 'five-in-one' vaccine trial carried out in the State.

"No information on the 1965 trial referred to was identified and the department is not in a position to answer any of the detailed questions raised.

"The department does not propose to carry out any further investigations," a spokesman said.

GlaxoSmithKline also refused to comment on the revelations.

"Since the Laffoy Commission, GSK has not received any official requests for information and we cannot comment or speculate on any future actions," a spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for Bessborough also said she could not comment on why the vaccine was administered.

- Patricia McDonagh

'I just want answers. I need to know why I was picked for secret trials of a new vaccine'

By Patricia McDonagh
Irish Independent, Monday December 13 2010

PHILIP Delaney was a vulnerable six-month-old baby when he was first injected with the unauthorised 'five-in-one' vaccine.

Over the next two months, he was given the combined jab on three separate occasions in an apparently secret trial.

Now, more than 40 years later, he is determined to know why he was given the jab in 1965 at the Bessborough mother and baby home in Co Cork.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s three separate vaccine trials were conducted on Irish children on behalf of the multinational drugs company The Wellcome Foundation, which is now known as GlaxoSmithKline.

A report drawn up by the Department of Health in 2000, by its then chief medical officer Dr James Kiely, confirmed the existence of these trials.

It found 211 children were administered vaccines -- 123 of whom were resident in children's homes in Dublin, Cork and the midlands.

But unlike these victims, Philip has never been able to find out why he was given a vaccine that was never provided to the rest of the public. And, crucially, if it was part of a larger vaccine trial involving children in Bessborough.

Born John Martin to Margaret Finnegan on March 30, 1965, in Bessborough, he was given a routine BCG vaccine -- like every other child in the nation. But that was where the comparisons stopped.

In a sinister twist, he received an unknown 'five-in-one' vaccine which had an unprecedented mixture of polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

And unknown to Philip it would never be used on the general public again.

According to records Philip obtained from the adoption agency Cunamh, he was given the experimental vaccine on three occasions. But his birth mother Margaret insisted she had no knowledge this mixture was being administered to him.

Margaret lived and cared for Philip at the home until he was adopted. "I was shocked when I heard he had received the vaccine. We were never told anything about any sort of vaccine," she told the Irish Independent.

"I am angry he was given the injection without my consent. The consequences could have been more serious," she said.

She became pregnant with Philip while working in Wales and was referred to the Cunamh agency in February 1965 at the age of 21. Fearing her parents would react badly to the news of her pregnancy, she gave him up for adoption.

Vera and John Delaney, from Walkinstown, Co Dublin, were delighted when the toddler was handed to them. They named the little boy Philip. But just a few days later, Mrs Delaney was stunned when a doctor arrived at her door to administer the final tranche of the vaccine.

Despite the four decades that have since passed, Mrs Delaney, who went on to adopt four other children, said she remembers the day clearly.

"The doctor came out and said she was giving him a five-in-one injection and that it would cover everything. I had never heard of that injection, but he was our first baby so we didn't really know what to expect.

"She said she would be back in a couple of weeks to take blood to check if the injection had taken."

This is confirmed by Philip's records, which show social worker Anne O'Donoghue noted the doctor had called and that she was due again in May.

"She called but before she left she said Philip should never have been sent for adoption, saying that he was one of 20 children trying out this new vaccine. She was angry and saying she had to go all over the country to look for these children."

Frightened by the encounter, Mrs Delaney was afraid the doctor would stop her from adopting Philip, but the order was finally made official on May 4, 1966.

But the thought still niggled the new mother and she brought Philip to her local clinic to ensure he was protected from all disease.

"I mentioned the five-in-one vaccine and they thought I was mad. They just gave him an oral polio vaccine and nothing for measles," she said.

A few months later Philip was struck down with measles.

"He got it quite bad and was very sick at the time. He also got very bad asthma in later life and I don't know if this was to do with the vaccine," she said.

For Philip, the knowledge that he had received the vaccine only came after he obtained his medical files some months ago.

He is still in shock, but now wants answers as to why it happened. He insisted he has not ruled out going down the legal route to bring whoever administered the experimental vaccine to justice.

"I want to get answers. I want to know why I was given this vaccine and who gave it to me," he said.

- Patricia McDonagh


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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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